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EVERYONE: LoZ - The Kakariko Festival (My entry for the 2023 one shot Halloween contest)

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Hello! This is my entry to the 2023 autumn one shot fanfic contest. First, I will say that I have gone through multiple versions of this (I'm sure many people have done the same). I tried to put in a certain level of conflict, but it always felt forced. It just seemed unnatural for it to be there due to the context of the story. Plus, I felt it was distracting from the main point of the story (the festival). Anyway, here is the story:
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Malon peers through some bushes, having spotted something sparkling within it. "Hmm…" she mutters as she attempts to reach the object, "Come on…reach…" After a moment, she grabs the object. "All right! Another Chrysanthemum Petal found!" She exclaims happily as she looks at the glowing yellow leaf. Placing it in her satchel with the other petals that she had collected, Malon heads back into the main part of the village to continue her search.

She walks by several kids who are also taking part in the Chrysanthemum Scavenger Hunt. Lanterns that resemble Chrysanthemums hang on poles lining the path, each one glowing a different color. "So pretty," she said as she looks at the lanterns. Each year, the town holds a festival to honor those who have passed.

There are multiple activities that take place. One activity that takes place is the Chrysanthemum Scavenger Hunt, which involves finding Chrysanthemum Petals that have been scattered around the village to be found. There is a pie eating contest, but Malon is not interested in that, though she loves Pumpkin Pie.

After searching through some pots, the bell is rung, signaling the end of the scavenger hunt. Malon spots one last petal tucked under some stairs and grabs it before joining the others at the town square. She hands her satchel to Sharil, the person in charge of the event, before joining the other kids to wait for the totals to be announced.

"I wonder who won this year." Malon said.
"Not Jurro that's for sure," Thopa, her childhood friend, said with a snicker.
"Yeah. While it's a shame that he's not feeling well, at least for once we don't have to worry about him trying to cheat," Malon said with a chuckle.

After a few minutes, Sharil steps onto the stage. "We have counted up the totals and have determined who the winner is," she said. The crowd cheers in response.
"(Here we go. Will I break my losing streak)?" She says to herself.
"In third place, with six petals, is Boza!" Sharil shouts.
"Dang! I feel like I searched everywhere," Boza mutters.
"Second Place, with seven petals, is Thopa!" Sharil shouts.
"I did see one in the rafters in the barn, but I'm too much of a Cucco to climb up there," Thopa whispers to Malon.
"I saw that one too, but I also didn't go for it," Malon whispers back.

"In first place, with eight petals, is…Malon!" Sharil shouts.
"Wow! That petal I found at the last second helped prevent a tie," Malon said with surprise as the crowd cheered.
"Where did you find it?" Thopa asks.
"Under the stairs to the inn," Malon replies.
"I thought I looked there," Thopa groans.

Malon climbs up onto the stage and takes her first place ribbon as the crowd cheered. "Man, I didn't think I would win that at all considering my luck," she said with a smile. She then jumps off the stage and rejoins Thopa in the crowd.
"Well, I hope you all continue to enjoy yourselves during the festival!" Sharil shouts.

Sometime later, Malon and Thopa are sitting at a picnic table eating some Pumpkin Pie.
"Have you taken a Chrysanthemum to your mother's grave yet?" Thopa asks.
Malon shook her head. "Not yet. I wanted to do the scavenger hunt first since out of all the activities, that one is my favorite," she replies.
"I see," Thopa said, nodding her head as she takes another bite of her pie.
Malon finishes the last of her creamy pie and licks her fingers. "Oren's pies are always so good," she said
"I head Epona gave birth a few days ago," Thopa said.
"Yeah. We still have not thought of a name for it," Malon said.
"I'm sure something will come up." Thopa said.
The two girls continue eating their pies and chatting away. Eventually, Malon stood up and stretched. "I'm going to go visit my mother's grave now. I should go while I still can," She said.
"Ok. See you later," Thopa said as Malon walks off.

Malon makes her way along the path to the stall where Chrysanthemums are being handed out so that people can take them to place on the grave of a loved one. "Can I have a pink one please, Noma?" She asks, knowing that is her mother's favorite color.
"Of course, Malon," she replies with a smile as she hands her the basket.

Malon takes the basket and continues through the town to the graveyard. The entrance is also lined with the lanterns. The path into the graveyard itself is made of dirt. There are multiple rows of gravestones. "I see that people have already been here to pay respects as well," she says as she passes several graves that have Chrysanthemum placed upon them.

Coming to the grave of her mother, she crouches down in front of it. She takes the Chrysanthemum and places it upon the grave. "I really miss you, mother. I know it's only been three months, but it feels like you've been gone forever," She said, as tears form. After a moment, she closes her eyes and takes multiple deep breaths to keep from crying, as Sharil had said the week she had passed. "I…I still have that necklace from you made for me," she adds.

Malon takes a deep breath in order to calm herself. "Um…I won the Scavenger Hunt for the first time, and Epona gave birth to a girl foal. It's so cute. Link's been helping me care for her. He also taught me the stuff that you wanted to teach me before you passed away," she adds.

"That's wonderful to hear, Malon," Comes Isha's voice, the sound echoing slightly.
"Mother?" Malon asks in shock as she looks around.
Isha chuckles. "Look at the Chrysanthemum,"
Malon examines the flower and is amazed to see that it's glowing with a pink hue.
"How…?" Malon asks.
"They have a deep connection to the Spirit Realm. I am drawing upon its energy to appear to you," Isha said.
Malon leans closer and sees a flame in the center of the flower.
"Wow. That's so cool," Malon said, smiling.
"Of course, we can only do this for a limited time," Isha said.
"I suppose that makes sense," Malon said.

After a few moments, Malon stands up. "Um, I'm going to head back to the village now. I…this is my first time doing this, and I don't really know what to say. Plus, I did promise Sharil that I would help clean up," she said.
"Of course, Malon. Bye for now. You can come anytime to chat, even if you don't have a Chrysanthemum. I will always be listening," Isha said. The flame then fades away along with the pink hue.

A tear rolls down Malon's cheek as she stands there for a moment before breaking into silent sobbing. After pulling herself together, she picks up the basket and heads back to the village. After helping to clean up, Malon heads back to Lon-Lon Ranch with Link and Thopa, since she wanted to see the foal. There, the girls walk over to the barn and watches as Epona's foal wanders around the pen. Suddenly, a thought enters Malon's head.
"Sunflower. That's what I'll call you. I think that's a good name," she said with a wide smile on her face.
"Isn't that what your mother used to call you as a nickname?" Thopa asks.
"Yes," Malon replies with a wide smile.
 
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Hiya there! Writing my reviews for the contest now!

I will say that writing a non-Pokémon entry for the contest was a pretty adventurous thing to do! It wasn't against the rules or anything, of course, but it was something neat that stood out considering how the majority of our contest entries over the years have been more or less Pokémon-based in some form or another.

Regrettably, I'm not too familiar with Zelda, so I think my understanding of the fic may have been hampered a bit by that, but I still have some thoughts for you at any rate.

I think that an autumn festival was a good choice for a setting — 'safe' as it may be (which I don't think is bad necessarily?), there's a lot you can do with a plot to make it yours, and even though I'm not too familiar with the setting / characters, I can see that you did so! There are quite a few characters you have in it interacting, which helped add to the feeling of it being a fairly large festival.

As for any criticism I have — and I hope you're open to it — I did notice some tense issues in your prose? Nothing super major, but I think you tended to use past tense forms of verbs relating to speaking (said/shouted/etc) in this work despite it being written in mainly present tense.

Additionally, I feel as though for the sake of the story's pacing, it possibly could have benefited you to include a bit more detail overall, especially pertaining to the festival itself? It would have been neat to hear more about the festival other than the petal-finding contest, especially about the atmosphere of the event and that sort of thing.

The transition from Malon hanging out with her friends to going to her mother's grave felt a bit forced, in my opinion, and I think that it likely would have flown a bit better if you had her think about or reference her late mother in some way during the course of the story, particularly at the start — it just struck me as a tad bit unemotional because of the lack of information about Malon and her relationship with her mother, let alone the fact that she had passed only a few months ago?

Don't let my criticism dissuade you, though! I can see the effort you put into this, and I certainly commend you for putting yourself out there with a non-Pokémon entry. Thanks for sharing your work with us!
 
@lisianthus

Thanks for the review! I appreciate it.

Hiya there! Writing my reviews for the contest now!

I will say that writing a non-Pokémon entry for the contest was a pretty adventurous thing to do! It wasn't against the rules or anything, of course, but it was something neat that stood out considering how the majority of our contest entries over the years have been more or less Pokémon-based in some form or another.
I've written a few non-Pokemon stories in the past. Yeah, this is a Pokémon forum, but I have seen non-Pokemon works around from other people.

I think that an autumn festival was a good choice for a setting — 'safe' as it may be (which I don't think is bad necessarily?), there's a lot you can do with a plot to make it yours, and even though I'm not too familiar with the setting / characters, I can see that you did so! There are quite a few characters you have in it interacting, which helped add to the feeling of it being a fairly large festival.
I did go through other ideas, like a character working as a sage/priest/priestess at a temple where they help spirits move on to the afterlife, but it got so big I was worried that I would not be able to keep it under 10,000 words.

As for any criticism I have — and I hope you're open to it — I did notice some tense issues in your prose? Nothing super major, but I think you tended to use past tense forms of verbs relating to speaking (said/shouted/etc) in this work despite it being written in mainly present tense.
Yeah. I always had a problem with being consistent with tenses.

Additionally, I feel as though for the sake of the story's pacing, it possibly could have benefited you to include a bit more detail overall, especially pertaining to the festival itself? It would have been neat to hear more about the festival other than the petal-finding contest, especially about the atmosphere of the event and that sort of thing.

The transition from Malon hanging out with her friends to going to her mother's grave felt a bit forced, in my opinion, and I think that it likely would have flown a bit better if you had her think about or reference her late mother in some way during the course of the story, particularly at the start — it just struck me as a tad bit
Ok, the big one. I know it seems forced, because it kind of is. Even I will admit that. It was because I just could not think of anything to smoothly transition from Malon hanging out with her friends to her going to her mother's grave. It's something I still need to work on due to it not being that easy to do (for me anyway). Now that you mention it, I wish I did expand on the festival itself some more. I guess I was too hyper focused on the bit with Malon and her mother that I just rushed through the festival. Perhaps I could have gotten more votes if I did expand on it.
 
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